The situation is getting worse, and you know it. Students all over the world, especially young ones, are less inclined in our visual media flooded world to want to read, and they look for ways around books and excerpts.
We teachers know that reading is one of the best ways to reinforce and improve vocabulary, however, and look for ways to engage students in the written word. Here are five unconventional tips to encourage students to read more.
Encourage Your Class to Read Using New Method
Let Them Watch the Movie
If they really want to watch the movie as opposed to read the book, let them do so. You have three options to encourage reading along with the movie.
- Make them read English subtitles by providing a worksheet or activity for the film where they have to mark how many times different vocabulary words are used.
- Give them a question and answer worksheet using actual dialogue from the book that was used in the movie.
- If they loved the movie, give them the book to read afterwards! It might have sparked their interest to delve into the words. Have an optional assignment ready for extra credit to summarize three key differences between the book and the movie in a short reading comprehension assignment.
Pass E-book Chapters to Their Cell Phones
You can download thousands of books for free from the Internet. Find a good one from a new author for teens for free online at www.goodreads.com and then develop questions. Or you can find a huge amount of free English literature at www.gutenberg.org. Use a classic Edgar Allen Poe short story to engage teens in a reading assignment where they have to answer short discussion questions for homework and then talk about their answers in groups in class. Provide text files that can be read on the computer if they do not have a cell phone or tablet.
Give Them Magazine Articles
Find well written articles from the New York Times or Cosmopolitan about pop culture, dating, music, or some other interesting subject for teens. Have them write a paragraph about their reaction to the article as homework before class. You can also design an assignment for them to find an article and present it to classmates. If they use interesting articles, you can have some great discussions!
Make Books in Class
Download books for pre-intermediate or intermediate teens at a site like www.readinga-z.com and have students pick books they like and bind them in class. They can do this alone, or they can work in teams of four to be responsible for reading and summarizing a few pages of each book. They will be more inclined to read the book chapter if they have a social impetus to complete a certain part for a group grade. Actually making the book will give them a sense of ownership over it as well which will encourage engagement.
Create an Educational Pamphlet Assignment
Ask them about a social problem in which they are interested, and then task them to go to a local NGO, government agency, or doctor’s office, or to search online for an educational pamphlet about that subject. Assign them to write a few bullet points about the subject and either hand it in as homework or use it as a classroom discussion tool. Good topics on which they can find brochures might be college/university options, special diets to lose weight, or beauty tips they can get at a salon or hairdresser.
It can be hard to get anyone to read for class, especially teenagers or young learners that are busy with other schoolwork and activities and have a constant stimulus of entertainment media at their fingertips.
ESL teachers should still actively encourage reading though, as it is the best way to reinforce vocabulary and learn new words and grammar concepts. These are just a few tips to make reading more interesting for your students!